Outrageous Behaviour: the beginning of a legacy?

This past weekend, I saw Outrageous Behaviour at the Battersea Arts Centre. Presented by Impact Dance, the hip-hop and street dance company, this festival of performance, interaction and conversation brought together artists, choreographers and companies influenced by the African Diaspora. Aimed at opening up creativity to young people and challenging the barriers to creativity young people commonly experience, the weekend concluded with The Battle. Hosted by Impact Dance CEO and Artistic Director Hakeem Onibudo, The Battle brought together three teams of dancers, musicians, actors, spoken word artists and DJs to compete in a game show format.

The grey and black team performing during one of the challenges of The Battle in Outrageous Behaviour at Battersea Arts Centre. (c) Julia-Carolin Zeng

Loosely based around the classic improvisation show Whose Line is it Anyway? competition took place over seven rounds. In keeping with the festival, there was a heavy dance input. Frequently hilarious, these highly talented and versatile performers were on top form, riffing off each other and engaging in good-natured teasing. At its best, improvisation looks effortless. And this was improvisation at its best. Although it is unfair to choose highlights, I’m going to do just that. Apologies!

My personal favourites were Hit Record where each team composed and performed a hit based on a word contributed from the audience (their challenges: climax, epidemic and slime!).

In Let’s Dance pairs from each team danced in a style from hip-hop and street picked at random by Onibudo. These rounds were scored by the audience who rose to the task with great enthusiasm. The occasional correction from a dancer who was sitting in the audience was a wonderfully spontaneous touch.

At the end of the evening, Onibudo announced his intention to build something enduring, with this weekend’s festival marking the start. Judging from the audience’s reaction and the energy buzzing through the packed room, he has hit on what will be a winning formula.

Kate Coleman is a member of Dance Grist.